NFL

NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Projecting the Top 10 Selections in this Year’s Draft

Feb 12, 2021; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence works out during Pro Day in Clemson, South Carolina. Mandatory Credit: David Platt/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports
Handout Photo-USA TODAY Sports

A major shakeup in the NFL draft recently happened when the 49ers moving from pick 12 to pick 3 in a blockbuster deal with the Miami Dolphins. Miami then flipped that pick with the Eagles and jumped from pick 12 to pick 6. The draft is an important time where every team in the league looks to improve upon their rosters. With the draft just a short month away, here are the projected top 10 selections in this year’s draft.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars — Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Dec 19, 2020; Charlotte, NC, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) on the field after winning the ACC Football Championship at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Trevor Lawrence is the undisputed number 1 pick in this year’s draft. Lawrence has been slated to be the first name off of the board ever since he led Clemson to a national championship two years ago. After a great Pro Day performance, it would be a shock to everyone if the Jaguars didn’t pick him first.

Lawrence is a natural leader and has the talent to become a franchise quarterback. He has tremendous arm strength and has the ability to make plays outside of the pocket. Trevor also has great size at 6′ 6″ and makes every pass look simple. Making him one of the most special QB’s to declare for the draft in recent years.

Trevor Lawrence has the ability to be an all-time great quarterback. However, even if he doesn’t live up to the high expectations, he will still be a great starting QB for the Jaguars for many years to come.

2. New York Jets — Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

Oct 10, 2020; Provo, UT, USA; BYU quarterback Zach Wilson (1) throws downfield against UTSA in the second half during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, in Provo, Utah. Mandatory Credit: Rick Bowmer/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s still very unclear what the Jets will do with Sam Darnold. However, whether they decide to trade him or not, they hold the second overall pick in an incredibly deep quarterback class. Zach Wilson shot himself up draft boards over the course of the year with BYU due to his arm strength and mobility.

It’s a bit of a risk drafting a quarterback as high as second overall when they only had one breakout season, but, Zach Wilson checks every box of a modern day quarterback. New Jets head coach, Robert Saleh, will likely want his own QB moving forward with the franchise. After a great Pro Day performance, the Jets have good reason to take a shot on Wilson.

3. San Francisco 49ers — Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Jan 1, 2021; New Orleans, LA, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields (1) celebrates after defeating the Clemson Tigers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers moving up to 3rd overall in the draft shows that they are in the QB market. Jimmy Garoppolo is still under contract for the next few years, but that doesn’t mean San Francisco isn’t prepared to move on. Fields can do it all on the field and has the competitive edge to lead the 49ers back to the Super Bowl.

Justin Fields is a guy who can start right away due to his talent and accolades, but, he could also benefit from taking a year or two just learning the offense. Justin is tough, experienced, and incredibly athletic. Under a Kyle Shanahan lead offense, Fields could really thrive. Potentially turning him into an elite QB of the future.

Whether Justin Fields would be the day one starter over Jimmy would remain to be seen. However, Fields would be the perfect QB for the 49ers either way. By selecting a QB at 3, it will create a competitive battle between Jimmy and Justin. The 49ers would then have the opportunity to choose which one is better for their season moving forward.

4. Atlanta Falcons — Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

Jan 11, 2020; Frisco, Texas, USA; North Dakota State Bison quarterback Trey Lance (5) celebrates winning the game against the James Madison Dukes at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

After a phenomenal Pro Day performance, Trey Lance is continuing to shoot up draft boards. Matt Ryan is still the starter in Atlanta next season, but that doesn’t mean that the Falcons should miss out on drafting their quarterback of the future this year.

Trey Lance is only 20 years old, but he has an insane skillset to complement his youth. He has a powerful arm, can scramble to make plays with his legs, and has great poise for his age. The Falcons have a variety of needs that they could look to address in this year’s draft. On the other hand, there is no position more important on the field than the quarterback position.

Whether Lance starts a game next season or not isn’t the important thing with this pick. It’s about establishing a competitive culture moving forward. Trey Lance has all the intangibles to lead the Falcons for many years to come.

5. Cincinnati Bengals — Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

Apr 20, 2019; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks offensive lineman Penei Sewell (58) points the scoreboard after the Oregon spring game at Autzen Stadium. Mighty Oregon beat Fighting Ducks 20-13. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals selected their quarterback of the future last year in Joe Burrow with the first overall pick. Now, it’s time for the Bengals to invest in protecting him. Penei has the highest upside of any offensive lineman in the draft, and could help solidify the line in Cincinnati.

Drafting Sewell would most likely send 2019 first-rounder Jonah Williams to guard, at least in the short term, to help maximize what their line can do. The Bengals have a great young quarterback and solid weapons surrounding him. Now is the time for the Bengals to keep Burrow healthy and buy him time in the pocket.

Joe Burrow’s season was cut short last year due to an ACL tear. That is to say that no matter who the Bengals select at this spot, it should be an offensive lineman. Penei Sewell is the most logical selection.

6. Miami Dolphins — Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Jan 13, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) reacts after a first down catch and run against the Clemson Tigers in the College Football Playoff national championship game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Had Miami remained at pick 3, Ja’Marr Chase still would have likely been the selection for the Dolphins. Miami is in need of more weapons to help Tua Tagovailoa’s development, and providing him with a true WR1 talent in Ja’Marr Chase would do just that.

Chase decided to opt-out of the 2020-2021 season due to COVID concerns. However, he is still the best wideout in the entire class, which is a great compliment considering how many potentially elite receivers there are. Ja’Marr can make plays on both the inside and the outside and would be a special weapon for Tua to work with.

Whether Tua is the future QB of the franchise or not, it’s always going to be beneficial to have a weapon you can rely on offensively.

7. Detriot Lions — Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) celebrates during a game between Tennessee and Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Alabama beat Tennessee 35-13. Alabamatenn1019 2330
Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel

The Detroit Lions are in complete rebuild mode after trading away Matthew Stafford. The Lions have various needs scattered across their roster; however, they have a glaring need at receiver. Detroit let wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones walk away, meaning that they will need a weapon for Jared Goff to throw the ball to.

Jaylen Waddle has great speed and explosiveness on his routes. He has the ability to make big plays and seems to always get a step or two on defenders in the initial route. The Lions should look to get him the ball early and often, as he is at his best when he has the ability to make plays with his feet.

As the Lions continue their rebuild, Jaylen Waddle provides them with an electric player who would be must see TV for fans across the league.

8. Carolina Panthers — Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Nov 9, 2019; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators tight end Kyle Pitts (84) celebrates as he scores a touchdown against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers are in need of a franchise quarterback, but selecting a player like Mac Jones at this spot may be a bit of a lateral move. Kyle Pitts has been deemed by many as a “once in a generational talent” and the Panthers shouldn’t miss out on selecting a potential elite tight end at pick 8 if he falls to them.

Teddy Bridgewater is a good enough QB to play out his contract, so adding another weapon to pair alongside Christian McCaffrey could really help to improve the future potential of the roster. Pitts is a player who can completely dominate games due to his skillset and can do it against a team’s best coverage player.

Although taking a tight end in the top 10 isn’t common, Kyle Pitts isn’t an everyday tight end. Pitts has the skillset to be a teams top receiving option, and would help energize this Panthers offense.

9. Denver Broncos — Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones (10) against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos aren’t sure whether they have their franchise QB in Drew Lock yet or not. Making a quarterback like Mac Jones a potential play at this spot for the Broncos. Denver needed a lot of help in their secondary but addressed it through free agency by signing cornerback’s Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller. Mac Jones could be the player who elevates the Broncos to true Super Bowl contenders.

Denver has a variety of weapons on the offensive side of the football which would help Mac Jones in his development. Jones has shot up draft boards over the course of the year and won a championship with Alabama. Jones is a winner, has great arm strength, and could really elevate the Broncos to the next level.

The Broncos are a team who could just be a QB away from being a true contender. If they believe Mac Jones can do that, then he is worthy of a top 10 pick.

10. Dallas Cowboys — Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Patrick Surtain II (2) against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys are strong offensively but could use some significant help in their secondary. Drafting Patrick Surtain II would reunite him with former Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs to help create a potentially elite cornerback duo. Having that chemistry between the two corners could mean serious trouble for opposing offenses.

Patrick Surtain II is a guy who can start on the outside for the Cowboys on day one. He’s a great boundary player with tremendous speed and ball-hawking capabilities. Surtain does a great job at preventing separation and has the size at 6′ 2″ to defend bigger opposing receivers.

The Cowboys finally signed quarterback Dak Prescott to a long-term contract extension. Now, the Cowboys need to work on building a defense that can help take off some of the offensive burdens that Prescott has had in recent years.

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